Ah! Morning at the Wigwam Motel! Second night not in a tent. What luck! We’re getting pampered, I’m sure.
Showered and cleaned up the room a bit, loaded up the car (this sounds a lot like camping – yes, but in a wigwam).
Let me explain the wigwam thing. If you’ve not seen the pictures, take a look at them now. The Wigwam motels were built in the 1940′s by some wacky guy who thought it would be a good idea if he’d make a chain of motels that looked like wigwams (tepees). What a brilliant idea! All of them but the one in Holbrook, Arizona have died. The one where we stayed is the only one left. It’s run by the son of the guy who built them. He is pretty wacky. But, I guess, in a good way. Each room of the motel is a wigwam, made of concrete and built to resemble a Native American wigwam. The insides are decorated with 1950′s furniture (probably not because it’s cool and retro, but because they haven’t redecorated in decades). The bathrooms are small and the showers are slanted. We are all short enough for that not to have effected us.
Outside of each wigwam is a “classic” car. We had an old Ford in front of ours. My dad would have dug it greatly.
I’m not sure what was going on, but a train would go by about every five minutes. It wasn’t bad, there wasn’t much around, so they didn’t have much reason to blow their horn. Most were carrying the trailers of tractor trailers. Some had the same automobile carriers that go through Sunbury a few times a day. Makes you wonder what would happen if you jumped a train heading east like an old hobo. Would it take you home?
We piled in the car at what we thought was 7am (more on the “thought” bit later). Route 66 goes right through Holbrook. So we turned left and were back on Mother Road (our new home).
Arizona isn’t like other states when it comes to Route 66. The town that Route 66 once graced with her presence embrace that fact. There are signs, monuments, celebrations and festivals all to honor the glory that is America’s Main Street. However, once you leave a town, forget it. Route 66 is, at best, a dirt road. Often, she’s completely gone. It’s sad.
I’ve learned that there is a Canadian Route 66 Association. No, 66 doesn’t go up into Canada, it’s just that Canadians are so cool that they want to save this road. They’re petitioning the US government to repave the “forgotten” parts of the road. When another country is telling you what to do with your own roads, you know you’ve got to get your stuff together. We should listen to Canadians. They’re wise beyond their years. Look at all the great things that come from Canada: John Belushi, Bill Murry, Peter Jennings, Rush, Brian Adams, SCTV, Bob and Doug Makenzie. Just because Celine Dion and Alanis Morresset come from Canada doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to them!
The clouds, much like yesterday, seemed hardly there at all. Just little puffs of white, sort of tallish, but more stout than anything. The sky was deep deep blue. A perfectly beautiful day.
Anyway, we took 66 through Holbrook until we were dragged, kicking and screaming, back onto the interstate. Our next stop was Jackrabbit.
Jackrabbit, like so many exits on I-40, which parallels 66, is named for the tourist trap that either is still there, or, as is usually the case, the tourist trap that once was there. Usually there are no towns and quite often, there are no houses. Just broken down buildings and maybe a dead gas station or two. This one, Jackrabbit, is still going strong.
In the 1940′s & 50′s they ran a billboard campaign that ran hundreds of miles in either direction on route 66. Much like South of the Boarder, their billboards are humorous and often irreverent. They got the kids literally screaming for their parents to stop at Jackrabbit. And finally, the sign that greeted them is the sign that greeted us. In huge black letters:
HERE IT IS!
We actually took a leg of 66 to Jackrabbit, so we missed some of the signs that are now on I-40. No big deal, but the one we did see was “Ride the Rabbit”. And when we pulled into the parking lot, we found out exactly what that meant. Well… most of us.
In their parking lot is a huge fiberglass jackrabbit (that looks more like a donkey) with a saddle on its back. Since we are tourists, we thought, “hey, why not?” First Nikki climbed up on it and “Rode the Rabbit.” Pictures were taken. And then I got on the rabbit. More pictures. However the photographer, who shall remain nameless, was apparently too cool to “RIDE THE RABBIT”… what was that about. After begging, pleading and literally pushing her to “Ride the Rabbit,” she refused. Needless to say, it was her loss. One day she’ll regret this. Twenty years from now, she’ll lapse into a deep depression. Her family will worry, maybe even insist she sees a psychologist. The psychologist will recommend a psychiatrist and he’ll give her the trendy anti-depression drug of the day, it will back fire, she’ll lapse into a coma and will have to be fed through a tube for the rest of her life! All because she did NOT ride the rabbit!
Honestly, I don’t see how she didn’t think of this before refusing the lure of the rabbit.
Yeah. Ok. So after the whole rabbit thing, we make our way inside the Jackrabbit store. It looked to be your typical Route 66 tourist trap, you know, moccasins for the entire family, boxes of Cedar with stupid saying on them, spoons and plates with state names on them and scorpions encased in a plastic bubble. Yes, it had all of that, but it also had a Route 66 room with memorabilia from the old days. Old road signs, books, postcards. Very cool. These guys have been around for quite a long time. We all bought something here, which is rare. We’re not spending a lot. Not really sure where to put it, I guess. I got a license plate that says “HERE IT IS” with a picture of the jackrabbit on it, a tshirt with the same thing, a few postcards and assorted other stuff that I simply couldn’t live without. Nikki got a tshirt and a few postcards. Ashley did too.
We left the store, said farewell to the ridable jackrabbit (who seemed to be looking veryangrily at a certain non-rider), and continued onto I-40 to Winslow.
Winslow was made famous by the Eagles song, “Take it Easy.” The line “standing on a corner of Winslow, Arizona” has made this town sort of famous. Nikki was singing it on and off the whole time we were in Arizona, up to this point. She insisted we take her picture on a corner. No problem. We entered Winslow off the interstate. To our right was a World Trade Center memorial. This seemed really random, but it was amazing. What looked like two chunks of rusted iron jutting up from a little concrete flower bed were actually two piece of one of the Trade Centers. I’ve never seen any of the wreckage before. Odd that we live only four hours away from where it all happened and we had to travel thousands of miles to a small town in Arizona to finally see it.
We drove west through town on a pretty run down street. Seriously nothing much to see. Though we noticed that the next street over (which went east) had some hotels too. When we got to the end of Winslow, we did a U-turn (which seem to be legal in every state but Pennsylvania. I bet you can do them in Canada too!), and drove east, back into the town. A few block in, we all got out of the car, Nikki positioned herself on a corner, I ran across the street and took her picture. Ironically, there was a Ford truck passing by. The tail of it is in the picture.
This was original, right? No one’s even thought of this before! Woo! Look at us go! We jumped back in the car, drove exactly one block, looked to our left and saw the “Standing on the Corner of Winslow Arizona” Park. It’s actually just a statue of a guitar player standing on the corner of Winslow, Arizona. On the building behind him, there is a pretty girl in a flat bed Ford slowing down to take a look at him. Yes, he is indeed taking it easy. Above two stores on either side of the intersection are signs dedicated to the song. You can actually see one of the signs in the pictures of Nikki standing on the corner. We somehow missed it.
Again, we parked the car and went into Roadworks, one of the stores on the corner. A woman ran from the cafe across the street to greet us. She was the shop owner. Everyone hangs out across the street at the cafe. When they see someone come into their shop, they run across and wait on them. What a cool little town!
I spent too much money there. But it’s all worth it. I actually bought something that we should have had from the start of Route 66. The Complete Atlas of Route 66 by Bob Moore and Rich Cunningham (Opie?). If you ever even think about driving Mother Road, please get this. It’s a two book set (one book has the directions – open it one way for east to west, flip it over and open it, you’ve got west to east – the other book is just color maps) and costs about $30. Worth EVERY penny. I promise. I also picked up some postcards, the latest issue of Route 66 magazine (which I’ll be subscribing to), and a edition of a Route 66 book from the 40′s; it details exactly what is at each town along the entire route. I spent so much that she gave me free stuff (a postcard and a button)!
While I was there, Nikki and Ashley mysteriously disappeared. I poked around a bit then got into a conversation with the woman who ran the store. I asked her if it was true that when they built the interstate, they used the concrete from the original Route 66 for the bed of I-40. She said it wasn’t true, but didn’t really seem to know for sure. She couldn’t explain why Arizona had so many dirt roads where Route 66 used to be. She did, however, explain what happened to at least some of the original concrete. After the built the interstate, they piled up the huge blocks, broke off little chunks and sold them as souvenirs. Lovely. And now it’s (mostly) gone. Thanks!
Nikki and Ashley mysteriously reappeared and the lady took our picture in front of her shop. Turns out that they went to the cafe where everyone who runs a store in town hangs out. It’s also an art gallery, this time featuring colorful abstract artist Justine Ivu. Ashley really dug her bunches.
We read through the Atlas to 66, fell in love with it and figured out our next few very cool stops.
The clouds were getting much taller now, flattening out at the tops.
Our next possible stop was Meteor City. That’s where a big meteor smashed itself into the earth and left a hole so big that you can only really appreciate it from the sky. So they charge $12 a person to stand on the edge of it and look at what is basically just a canyon, something you can see for free pretty much anywhere in Arizona. We thought about going to this for exactly one second, which is the time it takes to form the thought, mentally laugh your butt off and spit out of words “bite me!” as we flew past the exit at 80 mph. Route 66 exists for about a half mile through that area, but we could see it from the interstate and wanted to get to our next stop.
It’s interesting to note that Meteor City had a population of exactly 1 for many many years. Then suddenly there was a population boom! It increased by 100%! The guy who lived there got married.
Next was Two guns. What a cool name for a town. Or rather, an old tourist trap. No town here. Just a very uninviting looking house. The old Two Guns, Welcome! sign had been changed to “NOT Welcome.” A modern looking gas station was to our left, but that had been shut down a few years ago. 66 was to our right and it looked like the original concrete. We drove a short distance and arrived at a broken down building with the words “Mountain Lions” painted on it.
We parked by a very old gas station where only the frames of the pumps still stood and explored. The Mountain Lion place was actually a zoo in the 1940′s. A pretty crappy zoo too. I’m not a big fan of any zoo and feel that if you want to really see how animals live, go to where they live and find out. We have little business keeping animals in cages. Especially cages like these. The original cages, wood framed and covered with chicken wire, were still pretty much intact. They were small. Three feet high by only a few feet wide. I can’t imagine keeping anything in there. It reminded me of the POW cages from Vietnam. Disgusting.
Other falling down stone building dotted the canyon. My camera was having a fit, so we didn’t get many pictures of it. But I’ve been noticing that, though the pictures are nice, they don’t do justice to what we actually saw. For example, we’ll take a picture of a cliff that completely enthralls us, it’s breath-taking, but when we look at the picture that night, we can hardly remember why we took it. Pictures are good to have, but you have to live it to believe it.
The old Route 66 bridge (from the 1920′s) still spans Canyon Diablo. We could have driven across it as it was very sturdy, but instead we walked. Nikki videotaped a lot of this, which was very nice, Ashley took a few pictures, but was worried about space issues on her digital camera. I followed behind trying to get my camera to play nice with me. We were all in sandals, not the best footwear to have while traversing a canyon in rattle snake country.
It was like being on another planet. You could hardly hear the cars on the interstate and certainly no one else was around (we hoped). There were paths to old buildings, to caves too. There were even little wooden foot bridges spanning different sections of the canyon. We chickened out (and rightly so), got to the point where we’d have to climb and then turned around.
We got back to the car and I realized that it wasn’t my camera, it was the batteries. As is often the case with electronics, it’s not the devices themselves, but those who are trying to operate them.
I’ve wanted a chunk of Mother Road for my own since I first saw the original concrete in Oklahoma. Of course, I wouldn’t even think of taking a piece from the maintained, traveled parts. So I needed to find a chunk from an unused portion. Here, I thought, provided me this opportunity. Right before we drove from the gas station to what was left of poor Mother Road which was crumbling into the sand of the desert. Nikki leaped from the car, grabbed a 6 x 6 chunk of 66 and handed it to me. Though it looked like the original concrete when we first pulled off the interstate to check out Two Guns, it turned out that it was only white from the dust. This part of 66 had been repaved using some kind of macadam. It was black and definitely not concrete. So the search continues.
“Two Guns was named for Two-Gun Miller, who claimed to be an Apache. He killed a neighbor during and argument and was acquitted. Friends of the dead man put “Killed by Indian Miller” on the grave marker. Two-Gun Miller did not take kindly to the epitaph, so he added his own to the marker. He was jailed for defacing a grave. Two-Gun live for years in a cave alongside Canyon Diablo and didn’t give a damn about anyone but himself.”
-The Complete Atlas of Route 66.
We didn’t see a cemetery and really don’t know when this took place, but we did see some caves, possibly even Two-Gun Miller’s.
The clouds were getting darker on the bottoms. Taller and taller. This was becoming a storm.
Back to the interstate for more looks at 66 from the side. On the overpass to get to I-40, we saw the remains of the old road, which was cut in half by the highway. It was probably the original concrete. Ironic.
We stopped next at Twin Arrows, which is, of course, closed down. The two arrows still stand, but are no longer lit in neon as in years past. We didn’t even leave the car for this one. Hardly slowed down to take a picture.
Route 66 is the Asbury Park of the road. It has the same mystique, much the same history too. There was a boom in tourism after the Second World War. People traveled 66 and people went to Asbury. And now both places are dying or near dead.
A few miles down the interstate, there’s Winona. It’s mentioned in the song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.” While it’s not a ghost town, it certainly has zero kicks left in it. The original town of Winona was actually a bit to the north of where it is now. They moved it. Moved an entire town. Not sure how you go about moving a whole town, but that’s how it is. They did it on the Simpsons too. Just moved Springfield. I think it was because of the garbage strike. Great episode that brought us the classic song “The Garbage Man Can” sung to the tune of “The Candy Man Can.” Just thought you’d like to know.
Winona’s more recent claim to fame is its historical bridge. It was used in the movie Forrest Gump. He ran across it. He ran a lot of places, so none of us can remember exactly when this happened. When we get home, we’ll rent the movie again.
It’s very rare to have a four mile stretch of Route 66 still pretty much intact in eastern and central Arizona. But here it is! Through Walnut Canyon to Flagstaff.
Route 66 flows through Flagstaff, which has, like most Arizona towns on The Road, embraced it’s attachment to the Route. It’s clearly marked too!
By Flagstaff, it was thundering and lightening. A full blown storm had evolved before our eyes. Weather! As it happens! This was exciting! Or at least interesting.
Flagstaff seems to have a strange vibe to it. Great town though. It’s one of those towns that is what Lewisburg, PA wishes it was but will never ever be. We parked for free on a side street and walked around a bit. We saw a bank clock that told us it was noon. “Must be wrong,” we thought, “it’s actually 1 o’clock.” Bank clocks are never right.
Our first order of the day was to find an internet connection. After asking around, we found this little cafe/sports bar thing with the coolest stainless steel tables ever. The owner let us use his connection for free. Great guy!
While uploading our daily entry, we noticed that his clock was also an hour behind ours. What gives? We threw the question around for a bit and finally asked the owner. This is strange, but Arizona doesn’t do the daylight savings time thing. They just refuse. Well, the whole state except for the reservation, which is about 1/3 of the north (minus the National Parks). Slightly confusing, but we had an extra hour!
After we finished up and bought more water, we took the computer back to the car and explored he town. I wanted to check out the record store, while Ashley and Nikki wanted to hit this almost hippy-like clothing store. I got bored real quick-like with the record store and went to find the girls. Ah, but no where to be found! Were they suddenly in shopping mode? Did they take off to see Flagstaff on their own? I called Ashley’s cell. No answer. So I waited outside the record store. And waited. And waiting. So I did what anyone would do: I called my mom.
My folks and Michael were visiting my uncle. I told them as much as I could about the trip and talked a bit about Flagstaff. Then I talked to Michael. I told him that he must travel when he is old enough. It’s too important to leave for when you retire. Get out now! Life is way too short not to see the world, or at least as much of it as you can. The go to school, then to work, then die thing is a bold-face scam. Don’t fall into it! Why was I so foolish that I waited this long to do it? I just don’t know.
Even through the 40′s and 50′s, this town had a cowboy and Indian thing going on. All along the streets, you’d see men and women in their cowboy outfits and Native Americans in their tribal gear. Today, it still has a large native population, but the cowboys are mostly gone. We didn’t see even one Stetson!
Hunger was getting the best of us, so we drove the suburbish parts of the city for something, anything. We didn’t want to do Subway again, but Ashley found an Indian place. That’s Indian from India, by the way. However, it was closed till dinner. We settled for a so-so Chinese place instead. Our luck with Chinese food on this trip has been beyond bad. The only high point was the place near New Orleans. That was just amazing. Everything else has been mediocre to just down right nasty.
We ate and left Flagstaff. I didn’t really do the town justice in this writing, but if you get out this way, spend more time here than we did. It’s got a charm to it.
Our destination for the night was Glen Canyon. We read about it in a hiking magazine. It was once a resort created by a dam and thus a man-made lake. In the past few years there’s been a terrible drought, but one of the advantages of this is that the water level has gone down to almost where it used to be. It’s a canyon again.
The two and a half hour journey from Flagstaff northward to Glen Canyon is desolate. Of course, it’s off Route 66 and it’s very sad to say goodbye, but we’ll be back in just a few short days. We drive across a plateau. But you don’t know it’s a plateau while you’re on it, it’s only when you see huge mountains that are kind of below you do you realize that you’re up pretty darn high. 6000 feet, about. Again, the look of the land changed drastically from one point to the next. We passed small Native American villages and shops all along the route. Actually, almost the whole trip was through a reservation. Very unpopulated. No sprawl! My kind of place.
We passed so much beautiful scenery, I couldn’t possibly describe it all. The one thing I will mention are the Echo Cliffs. They look like mountains when you’re approaching them, but their not. You find this out by literally driving up the side of them. When you get to the top, there is no going back down (at least for a little while). You get there and it’s like a prairie, a country side. Just very strange. See it to believe it.
Arriving at Glen Canyon, we registered and set up our tent. We had to move it a few times because of the ants, but finally just left it where it was. Ants are everywhere. No food anywhere near the tent.
It was 7:30pm. Just two nights ago, it was 9:30pm. Just a week ago, it was 10:30. Right now in Pennsylvania, it’s 10:30. The sun is our clock now. Time is basically meaningless. When the sun rises, we get up, when it sets, we go to bed.
To make the time thing even stranger, while we are camping in Arizona, the state line runs directly through the campgrounds. We shower in Utah. Utah does observe daylight savings. Luckily, the showers are open 24 hours a day.
Tomorrow is our day off. Laundry, swimming, etc.
Miles traveled today: 257
Hours on the road: 13 hours
Miles traveled in total: 3658
Today’s Pics from Eric’s camera.
Today’s Pics from Ashley’s camera.
Where are we?
Map showing where we are today!
(Purple = where we’ve been. Red = where we traveled today.)